Steve G.

LP Poll Silliness

In Libertarian on December 19, 2008 at 5:09 am

The LP website has a Daily Poll.

In October, a question was published:

http://www.lp.org/poll/does-government-have-a-legitimate-and-necessary-role-in-society

and the response seems to have been lively (900 votes is a lot for an LP poll).

Then, coincident with a Dec. 17 essay by Andrew Davis talking about the ‘necessary and proper’ role of government (which I have disputed as being contra to the LP’s Platform, and which is under protest* and review** right now), another similar poll question was published:

http://www.lp.org/poll/do-you-believe-there-is-a-necessary-and-proper-role-for-government-in-society

But, after garnering at least 1200 votes (which I believe is a record for the LP Poll), and possibly over 2,000 votes, the poll was removed. Fortunately, the ever-vigilant Starchild grabbed a screenshot.

lporgpoll-properroleforgovernment1Why did the poll disappear? Technical glitch? Embarrassment?

A few days earlier, in connection with another project, I had asked Andrew Davis what the purpose of the Poll was. He replied:

User interaction on the Web site, which increases Web traffic. Seldom it is to determine (unscientifically) to gauge what type of demographic is visiting.

The poll certainly seems to have been a smashing success at the first objective, so it’s a shame it has disappeared. Perhaps it will be restored when the glitch is brought to Davis’ attention. Folks can always email Andrew Davis and inquire.

*My objection to the essay, sent to several LNC members, Chair Redpath, AD Robert Kraus, and Andrew Davis, was:

Robert and members of the LNC,

Andrew Davis’ latest blog posting:

http://www.lp.org/blogs/andrew-davis/governments-role-in-the-economy

takes the platform phrase “The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights…” and makes of it the sentence “Government has a necessary and proper role in our society to protect property rights…”.

The word *necessary* does *not* appear in the LP platform for a good reason, and Andrew’s adding it and then using it to draw the conclusion that “[Libertarians] do believe government has a function in the economy” is a grave error. ‘Necessary’ and ‘proper’ are two entirely different concepts, and a staff member does not need to be rewriting the platform for the members of the LP. I assume this is a simple logical error on Andrew’s part, and combined with his evident personal belief that government *is* necessary, led him to this mistake. Now that it has been brought to your – and his – attention, I look forward to its speedy correction or removal from the LP’s website.

I do formally request that the posting be corrected or removed quickly as it is misleading to the public, and offensive to those of us in the LP who believe that the free market can easily – if allowed – outperform government in this most vital function (property rights protection) as it can in all others. As a body, the delegates in Denver recognized in the Platform that if government does indeed have any role, the only one proper to it is rights protection, but we carefully avoided saying that government is *necessary*. It is a shame that such careful consideration for both the small-government position and the no-state position within the LP can be so easily overwritten by a staff member.

** The reponse to my objection has so far been:

From Mary Ruwart:

I forwarded your comments to the APRC [Advertising and Publications Review Committee] and recommended your changes.

and from Bill Redpath:

I will give your comments consideration as soon as I can, and I would think by this weekend.  For now, I think blog posting should remain as is.  Thank you.

  1. You got a reply from Redpath. I’m envious! Guess I’ll have to try harder.

    MHW

  2. You got a reply from Redpath. I’m envious!

    Neener🙂

    It was an admirably quick reply, too. I just hope there is timely followup, and naturally I hope that Bill and the other LNC members agree with my conclusion, and take some action.

  3. These “push polls” are aimed more toward changing the readers opinions of subjects rather than gaining feedback and then moving policy towards the will of the majority. These recent polls resemble Ms. Mattson’s polls concerning the platform committee. I would not be surprised to find out that Mr. Starr has his fingerprints all over this.

  4. The Dec 17 poll was publicized by anarchists using their LewRockwell.com megaphone. Available data suggest that anarchists constitute less than 8% of LP NatCon delegates (who are more radical than the membership) and dropping: libertarianmajority.net/libertarian-polling#LPmembers

  5. I’m not sure if you’re trying to get at some particular point, Brian, or just tossing out some information.

    How do you feel about the poll’s removal – assuming, for the sake of discussion – that it was not accidental or some programming glitch that X’d it?

  6. Brian,

    The minute that everyone agrees that a little bit of government is good then we start down the path of accepting more and more government. It is this mindset among Americans that has put us where we are today. The strategy of “no government” IMO is a lot better than the strategy of “some government is ok”, as far as how the LP should be perceived in the public eye. I would venture to say that most of the people who voted no in the above poll are not full blown anarchists, but still feel that the best way to reduce government is to call for its end. It amazes me that the reformers are always hollering about a “big tent”, but when our chair puts out a press release that is more fit for CATO than the Libertarian Party and completely ignores the left side of the nolan chart…. all I hear is crickets in the reformer corner.

  7. v, what release are you refering to?

  8. Brian, I wasn’t aware that the LP poll’s purpose was to determine the makeup of NatCom delegates, which you apparently already know. If the party ever wants to grow, it’s going to have to let some libertarians in, in addition to all the Republicans.

  9. v, that looks like a fundraiser to me, not a press release. but sure it seems a bit tilted toward economic issues.

  10. So I said to my little grandchildren, how can you tell how many people voted in a poll. They said, grandfather it’s very simple and then proceeded to show me how! I am so terrible at all this high technology of today. Here is what they sent me:

    Do you fear the economic reforms of an Obama administration? – 2070 votes
    Do you consider Obama’s win a landslide? – 2204 votes
    Will you vote today? – 3195 votes
    Do you believe Obama will win the election? – 2559 votes
    Do you trust John McCain to support Second Amendment rights? – 2484 votes
    Who would be worse for the country? – 2835 votes

    Looks like many other polls had high vote counts but it did look to my old eyes like something fishy was going on with the poll in question so I guess there must have been some technical problem. These polls however look realistic in their results.

    Good day!

  11. I don’t think it was any “technical problem” that caused the results of the December 17 poll on government to disappear. That would be just too much of a strange coincidence, and some announcement should have been forthcoming. I think what happened is simply that Andrew Davis and/or others at the national Libertarian Party office didn’t like the results of the highly-participated-in poll that showed nearly 2 out of 3 respondents favoring no role for government in society, and wanted to make those results go away.

    I imagine their expectation was that by running again a question nearly identical to the one they ran in October, when far fewer people responded but most said there was a role for government, they would get a similar result. This would have served the “reformers” goal of watering down the Libertarian Party’s message and moving it toward more acceptance of the State.

    When they saw that this time the results were turning out quite differently, I think they panicked and opted for censorship. That’s a shame, because such an action shows an attitude of fearing what the public has to say, and a lack of concern for “fair play.” To the extent that the national office is perceived as synonymous with the Libertarian Party, their action has damaged the party’s reputation for integrity.

    Speculation that the results of the poll may have been influenced by it being publicized on LewRockwell.com are no justification for the censors’ actions. The LP daily poll has never been restricted to LP members, and it is quite likely that past polls have generated results less radical than would have been derived from a strict poll of LP members, simply because most people on the Internet who have access to the LP site are not libertarians. It is quite likely, for instance, that partisans of other political parties visit LP.org from time to time to see what the Libertarians are up to, just as I a Libertarian activist occasionally visit Republican, Democrat, and Green sites.

    I think it’s also possible that the results of this poll were influenced by a Libertarian base that is increasingly upset by the trends evident in the national office toward conservatism and pragmatism, and away from a strongly libertarian message. As “volvoice” suggests above, it is possible that not all of the 63% who had voted no as of 845pm PST were hardcore anarchists, but simply wanted to register a message of disgust at recent developments , such as the disappointing national ticket of conservative-leaning candidates Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root, the terrible LP birthday message from the chair that completely ignored civil liberties, the deplorable watered-down state of the LP News publication, and the attempt to drum radical Angela Keaton off the Libertarian National Committee (she eventually resigned for health reasons due to the stress of being the focus of so much negative energy).

    Those who want the Libertarian Party to stay the “Party of Principle” should contact LP headquarters to complain about the unprincipled action of flushing the results of this poll down the “memory hole,” and demand that they be displayed along with those of other past LP daily polls on LP.org. Chair Bill Redpath can be reached at for starters, and a full list of national committee members and their email addresses can be found on LP.org by going to the tab labeled “OUR PARTY” at the top of the page and clicking on “Leadership” from the pull-down menu.

  12. CORRECTION – Bill Redpath’s email address did not get printed in the note above because I put it in brackets. It’s chair@lp.org.

  13. “Publicized by the anarchists”.

    There is nothing incompatible about anarchism and libertarianism.

  14. […] of Last Free Voice, the LP takes down a poll that gets a radical response, after being chastised for not being radical […]

  15. This is all pretty ironic.

    A poll comes out, reveals that WOW, people agree with libertarianism, rather than some limp “we support moving towards less fascism” folly. Then “poof” the poll disappears…

    Contrast this with the obvious lack of any such question in the mysterious series of ’08 platcom polls, allegedly authored by Alicia Mattson.

    Who knows, maybe whoever facilitated the so-called “Alicia” polls (and curiously she continues to refuse to disclose who the insiders were/are that made those “platform committee” polls possible), is the same person/people that yanked the “no necessary and proper roll of government” poll.

  16. The LP has become an embarrassment, and it is truly amazing just how far out of touch the people running it are with the LP base. I’ve been having a field day with this on my blog.

    http://corktageous.blogspot.com/2008/11/libertarian-partys-lame-ass-website.html

    http://corktageous.blogspot.com/2008/12/lps-unbearable-lameness-continues.html

    I’m seriously convinced that we could pick any handful of LP members at random and they could do these people’s jobs far, far better. For instance, why not issue a press release calling for the Federal Reserve to be abolished? It’s a winning issue, dammit! Just look at all the Ron Paul supporters holding anti-Fed rallies. Where the hell is the LP on this? And this is coming right off the top of my head. The LP people are clueless.

  17. dan,
    the proper “roll” of government is back😉

  18. I see they left up the Global Warming Poll, which admittedly is effective at identifying supporters of the conservative philosophy of stupid. Perhaps a few other polls of equal intellectual merit could be added to the future polls list:

    Did men and dinosaurs live at the same time? Yes No both

    The earth: Round? Flat? Stellated? Klein Bottle?

    Is malaria caused by
    Morbid humors in the air?
    Insufficient use of medical leeches?
    Unfavorable planetary configurations?
    Inadequate bile in the diet?

    The soundest representation of the integers is:

    Ancient Grecian Numbers
    Correct Roman Numerals 9 = VIIII
    Medieval Roman Numbers 9 = IX
    Base Pi enumeration (area of circle = 10 R^2)
    Mayan Numbers 9 =
    0000
    _____

  19. Brian Holtz: “The Dec 17 poll was publicized by anarchists using their LewRockwell.com megaphone. Available data suggest that anarchists constitute less than 8% of LP NatCon delegates (who are more radical than the membership) and dropping:”

    The reason, I think, that there is a decline of “anarchists” within the LP is that they see the infiltration of non-libertarian persons who have an agenda to derail the party of principle. I I am one who dropped out long ago after seeing what was in the pipes… and that’s not just blowing smoke!
    A Lew Rockwell & Ron Paul fanaddict.

  20. I see they left up the Global Warming Poll, which admittedly is effective at identifying supporters of the conservative philosophy of stupid.

    Says the xenophobic, protectionist, fiat-money loving enthusiast for atomic bombing civilian populations.

  21. Ha…….let’s put up a poll…….have people vote for actually a good question…..then take it down when the results are not what the LP expected………not surprising at all…..

  22. Susan, I believe the best cure for bad information is almost always to add good information, rather than removing the bad. That practice maintains liquidity in the marketplace of ideas.

    Volvoice, I don’t agree that demanding zero government is the most expedient way to decrease government, any more than I believe that asking for a free car is the best way to get a deal on my next car purchase. And even if I did believe that demanding zero government were the most expedient way to decrease government, I’m not sure I could put expedience above principle in that way, because I object in principle to zero government. However, if I did believe in zero government, I would recognize that the best way to advocate it is to decrease government and let people see that things work better the less government (and more competition) there is. Surely you must believe that zero government is easier to sell in minarchotopia than under a nanny state. Instead, it seems that anarchists are afraid that anarchism will seem less appealing the closer we get to it.

    As for “crickets”, I already wrote three days ago: “even in the context of the current bailout mania, Redpath should indeed have included personal liberties along with economic liberties in his list of LP promises. That’s why the platform is split into Personal Liberty and Economic Liberty sections: to highlight the theme that we are not Left, not Right, but Libertarian.”

    Melville, I didn’t imply that the purpose of the poll was to determine the makeup of NatCon delegates. You can either deal with the available data, or not. Reality is not optional.

    Geoffrey, the high-turnout polls you cite almost all came from right around Nov 4. I wonder what was happening around then that might drive traffic to lp.org? Of your other two examples, one was again about the POTUS horse race, and the other was on the hot-button issue of guns. Since mod-November the median poll response has been around 300, and the only two above 500 were about Bush (900) and Afghanistan (1200). So yeah, the poll in question showed evidence of exogenous shock.

    Starchild, the reformers’ goal is not “watering down the Libertarian Party’s message and moving it toward more acceptance of the State”. The reformers’ goal is to make the LP ecumenical toward the various principled schools of libertarianism. Your only hope of stopping us is to admit that’s our aim and to try to argue against it. Until you do, you’ll remain a bug on our windshield.🙂

    As I’ve already told you, I’d love to see this poll re-run with votes in dollars, against a menu of LP spending priorities. Let’s see LewRockwell.com try to stuff THAT ballot box.

    Dan, your “less fascism” complaint is just self-parody. Clumsily smearing your opponents that way just insures your ineffectiveness. Please keep it up.🙂

    Ecowoman, I don’t doubt that there are several times more anarcholibertarians outside the LP than inside it — just as there are many times more minarcholibertarians outside the LP than in. The big-tent goal is to get all libertarians (back) inside the tent.

  23. So Peak Oil may be a technically correct thought, but as a frame of reference it’s a useless tautology. The price of oil products will drift upward as oil gets scarcer and/or more difficult to get. As it does, extant but uneconomic alternatives will become economical. By the time the tap actually runs dry, it won’t cause any hardship for anyone.

  24. […] LP Poll Silliness The LP website has a Daily Poll. In October, a question was […] […]

  25. Calling Lewrockwell and the Paleo crowd anarchist is completely laughable. Check out the following video:

    Brian…..if this is where you are trying to move the threshold for anarchy to, I am calling BS. If the LP can’t publicly call for the removal of government to at least the bounds described by Ron Paul then the LP is not and will not be the leader of the freedom movement. Our party is currently being marketed to look less radical than a member of the republican party and that is bad news for theshort and long term. BTW, IPR has put out an article on the latest LP poll….does that make them a megaphone for anarchy?

  26. V, personally I’m way more interested in actually REDUCING the State than in posturing. Which of the many strategies is most effective is hard to say, yes?

    If you had the choice of being “radical” in rhetoric but ineffective or something less than “radical” but influential in reducing the State, which would you choose?

    Many among the Rockwell crowd certainly refer to themselves as anarchists. That’s a fact, yes?

  27. Volvoice, Lew Rockwell is an anarchist. The very first thing the LewRockwell.com masthead says is “anti-state”. LRC prominently features anarchist writers, such as Anthony Gregory — whose blog entry was the one that sent LRC readers to the LP.org poll. I have never seen any writing on LRC that defends the existence of the state from anarcholibertarian criticism. Can you point us to any? As far as I can tell, LRC tolerates non-anarchist writers and writings only to the extent that they criticize the State and its institutions.

  28. volvoice – Lew Rockwell is an anarchist. How does the video show otherwise? Paul’s views are not Rockwell’s.

  29. I was referring to the blog rather than Mr. Rockwell himself…My bad.

  30. it’s my understanding that Lew himself is not quite an anarchist, that he believes a local government is necessary…second hand information, admittedly. I’ve never seen him *state* that he’s an “anarchist,” not even a theoretical asymptotic one!

  31. Robert,

    ……V, personally I’m way more interested in actually REDUCING the State than in posturing. Which of the many strategies is most effective is hard to say, yes?….I agree.

    …If you had the choice of being “radical” in rhetoric but ineffective or something less than “radical” but influential in reducing the State, which would you choose?…..

    If you had the choice of being “moderate” in rhetoric but innefective or something more than “moderate” but influential in reducing the State, which would you choose?:)

    ….Many among the Rockwell crowd certainly refer to themselves as anarchists. That’s a fact, yes?…..Don’t know, I read the blog on a regular basis and I have never claimed to be an anarchist. I reckon that the jist of my previous posting is that Lew or anyone else can call for an end to the State and still support guys like Ron who are in no way calling for an end to the State. I as a reader/follower/voter can still support both tactics.

  32. v, to answer your question, I’m all about results in the appropriate diection, so I’m flexible on tone and rhetoric. Something more than moderate sounds fine with me, and approximates my current positioning.

  33. No, Robert – Rockwell is most definitely an anarchist.

  34. Jason, maybe. Can you cite an example of where he says he is? I’ve been told of a first hand account otherwise, and my cursory reseach indicates no such admission.

  35. To help clear up whether Lew Rockwell is an anarchist or not, here are his own words from an excerpt of an interview, from “Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?” at:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/liberal-post-interview.html

    Johnsson: Some say you’re an anarchist; is that true?

    Rockwell: The term anarchist is mostly used to mean someone who believes that if the state and law are gotten rid of, all property would become collectively owned. It was the great insight of Murray Rothbard that this is not the case: private ownership and the law that support it are natural, while the state is artificial. So he was an anarchist in this sense but to avoid confusion he used the term anarcho-capitalist. This doesn’t mean that he favored somehow establishing a capitalist system in place of the state. What he said is that capitalism is the de facto result in a civilized society without a state. Has this position made advances? Yes, but not so many that we can use the term anarchism without causing confusion. If the purpose of words is to communicate, I’m not sure that the term does that well.

    As to my own views, I do believe that society thrives best without a state. But I’m with Rothbard, Nock, Molinari, Chodorov, and others who believe in law and private government, such as we find in corporations, housing subdivisions, and church hierarchies. So if by anarchism we mean a society without law, I’m completely against that idea.

  36. I should add that the LP poll question would have been better if they had substituted “the state” for “government,” but I think most of us agree that the poll was referring to the state, not private government.

  37. Like Rockwell and (apparently) Scott Frost, I am for private, voluntary government and law — not left-wing anarchism. When I said Rockwell was an anarchist, I thought it was clear we were talking about anarcho-capitalism.

  38. Thanks for finding that, Scott. The “housing subdivisions” piece may be an area for exploration, and the cause of confusion.

    Jason, it was clear that we were refering to anarchocapitalism, not a different construct.

  39. >> The big-tent goal is to get all libertarians (back) inside the tent.

    When I read the above statement I get an implication that doesn’t smell at all like liberty to me. Get them back inside the tent? Corral the herd?

    If there is one group of people who cannot be characterized as “sheep” it would be people who subscribe to libertarian ideals and principles.

    Big government? Big tent? WTF is the difference? Has the LP ever considered the possibility that maybe there shouldn’t be a big tent?

    The LP doesn’t yet understand the difference between herding sheep and herding cats.

  40. Kurt, another way to look at it is to ATTRACT, not HERD, L leaners to the big tent. Political change requires BIG numbers, yes?

  41. Oh the irony! Hogwart, queen censor extraordinaire, is crying about the LP’s poll censorship? LOL

  42. LRC can promote Ron Paul and his costitutionalist views, and use his name and views to self-promote, even though they’re not constitutionalists but anarchists; but the LP cannot, because promoting those views would give offense to the anarchists within the party and violate the Dallas Accord just like Andrew Davis’ article and three or four things Bob Barr said in the campaign.

    Anyone willing to look at ideological reasons for the LP’s failure to capture the rEVOLution has to look at that; and the inescapable conclusion is that, if the LP is ever going to capture that constituency, the Accord has to go.

    That’s a working abstract for an article I’m working on. It’s new territory to me, as I’ve been mostly reporting news; so I’d appreciate constructive feedback.

    I’m not trying to hijack the thread, but I’d like to get feedback and this looked like an appropriate topic to jump in on.

  43. There IS no Dallas Accord. To the extent there WAS an informal “accord,” it expired LONG ago.

  44. Maybe you’re right, Robert: The Dallas Accord could be long forgotten, and maybe it wasn’t even considered such a big deal in the first place. That’s not how it looked at the time, to an admitted outsider. (Up here in Canada we never had it — our party’s Statement of Principles said, since day 1, that “an institution” preventing initiatory and regulating retaliatory force is required, and still says so today.)

    Nor is it how it looks now, from reading this complaint to the LNC. The Denver platform resolution looks to be governed, as always, by the Accord, while Davis’s column looks like a clear repudiation of it, and that repudiation is precisely the grounds for the complaint. The name may be forgotten, but the underlying idea is still dominant.

  45. George, yes, I think you’ve framed it about right. Ls who believe ALL government should be opposed tend to resist any explicit or implicit “endorsement” of the State. Ls who believe SOME State functions are necessary (at least for the foreseeable future) to maintain a modicum of domestic tranquility tend to resist any explicit or implicit “endorsement” of anarchism.

    I don’t think you have it quite properly framed on the Platform, however. I’d suggest it was more of a triage operation, attempting to create a more comprehensive statement of L principles that all Ls can at least live with. I’d say that intention was largely satisfied.

    My suggestion is the National Office should consider ceasing these polls. They only serve to pour salt on the wound, which I hope is healing. And it’s not obvious that the polls are especially valuable for much of anything, actually.

  46. libertarianintelligence.com/2008/05/restore74-with-denver-accord.html

    knowinghumans.net/2007/09/dallas-accord-rip-1974-2006.html

  47. Thank you, Mr. Holtz. I read these, and went from there to a pile of other articles on your sites. I hope that excuses my delay in thanking you; at least it shows you that I appreciated the leads.

    One question: you say at one point that all the LP presidential campaigns were more or less constitutionalist. Does that include Harry Browne’s two? I admit I didn’t follow those closely, but, given Browne’s rep, I’d have imagined differently. Can you possibly give me a link that deals specifically with that?

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